BY PAUL LAGAN
Antonio Conte is content with his squad, despite the disappointing 0-0 draw with Norwich City on Saturday in the FA Cup and is unsure when new signing Ross Barkely will make his Chelsea bow
He said: “With many of these players we played against Stoke City and we won 5-0. I’m very happy. I’m very happy for the commitment of my players. But at the same time this game hasn’t been easy for us. These types of games are very tough.
“Now we have to play another game, we have to play the replay. It won’t be easy because our schedule is very busy, but we must be ready to do this.”
But should not the players deliver on the pitch?
“I think that maybe in the first half,” he said.
“We were poor offensively. I think we didn’t create chances to score. In the second half we created chances to score, we created chances to win. But at the end of the day I think the result was fair.”
David Luiz returned to action after a six-week injury lay-off. Was Conte pleased worth his effort?
“For sure it was good news for David Luiz to come back after one month and a half for his injury in his knee,” he said.
“As you know very well, we have a lot of games to play. There is the league, Carabao games, the semi-final against Arsenal on Wednesday and another game in the FA Cup. There are many chances for all my players.
“I’m happy to give this chance to everyone, because I think they deserve this.”
Another addition to the squad was the £15million signing of Ross Barkley from Everton last week.
Conte said of his new signing: “Ross Barkley is a really good player. First of all we have the necessity to bring him in the best physical condition.
“I think he can play in midfield, if we play with three midfielders, or number 10 if we play 3-4-3.
“Ross Barkley is also a creative player. Against Norwich we had Willian and Pedro. These are two creative players.
“This signing is a good signing for the club.”
When will he play? Conte is unsure. “I don’t know,” he said.
“From today, I’ll see him and then we’ll start to prepare a programme, a plan to have him very good.”
Can he regain his England place? “We are talking about a player with great talent. Before this bad injury he was with the national team. I think we have six months, no five months, to show he deserves a call with the national team for the World Cup.
“I hope, because it means he will do very well with us.” So what does Barkely bring to the squad?.
“I think he has the quality to score more goals,” he said.
“My priority before to convince the player to work for the team. If you are able to work for the team, the team then exalt your characteristics. We are talking about a talented player and we are happy to have him in our squad.
“It’s important for me to see him, to understand his physical condition, to improve his physical condition, to work with us, into our ideas. My hope is to have this player very quickly.
“It will be very important to know him very well. For sure, before playing, we must be sure that he is into our idea of football. Otherwise it’s a problem for him and it’s a problem for the rest of the team.”